Meeting Mr. Ting

For @inventrix’s commissioned continuation of

We were still staring at the tentacled thing – it was just a prop, right? Just something from some sort of Lovecraftian movie or game or… something, right? – when the building shook again. I caught one of the adzes as it swung uncomfortably close to Jordan, and thus was turned in the right direction to see one of the shelves… swing. Rotate, really, like a Scooby-Doo secret door.

Nobody came out or anything, though; we just got another shelf. This one looked like it was in the end of the alphabet, or, at least, the end of our alphabet.

Xylophones, first. A whole shelf of the things, big ones with wooden bars, tiny ones, a few glockenspiels thrown in, the bright kids’ ones. Then a few model yachts, some small enough to fit in my hand, one fitting half a shelf on its own.

I don’t know what the #^^#(275)^ were, but they seemed to be shiny silver pointed tubes with a lot of fancy scrollwork.

I was staring at them and trying to ignore the fact that half the yardsticks were neither a yard long nor marked in anything I recognized as numbers when a Jordan hissed. “JJ….”

I turned around, half expecting to see something with tentacles. Instead, I saw…

“Ah, hello. My apologies, I came in through the back door. You must be the guests Mrs. Gent was telling me about.”

“I think they’re in the front, actually?” I said uncertainly. He looked entirely like my seventh-grade shop teacher, if Mr. Daniels had been sporting seven-inch ears and ten-inch eyebrows on a five-foot-nothing frame.

“Mrs. Gent can handle the Delorians just fine. But she said you two were an interesting pair.”

Jordan coughed. “We are?” We were used to hearing that, fair enough, but not in a place like that. “In this place, in this time,” the quote was rather inappropriate, but sometimes Jordan is like that, “we’re interesting? Mister, we just want…”

“I am not about what you want,” he interrupted. “I am about what you need, and that, dears, I already know. Didn’t you read the sign? Did I get the language wrong again?”

I winced, worried that we’d managed to tick him off already too. Not what we needed. Definitely not what we needed. “I’m sorry, sir…”

“Why are you sorry for your friend’s words? There is nothing to be sorry for, and you are not responsible for other people.”

“Jordan is my friend,” I flared, suddenly irritated myself. “We came here together, so I can be sorry if I want to.”

I immediately regretted it – we really needed that AC – but the little man was smiling. “Indeed. Jordan is your friend. It is such a lovely, concept, isn’t it?”

“Why did you say we were interesting?” Jordan cut in. “I mean.. this store, this is interesting. All this stuff you have…”

“Stuff, as you put it, is here because someone will need it some day,” he answered calmly. “You two are interesting because of yourselves”


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